“Paris started off so great for us, and it’s such a great key for us,” Watts said. “We knew when they were playing zone that she can explode the game because that’s kind of her game — mid range.”
Kea went back to her sweet spot, making a mid-range jumper 11 seconds into the period. But that was the only field goal UNC made in the entire second quarter. The Blue Devils’ success in the paint and the Tar Heels’ inability to shoot the 3-pointer led to a game-defining second quarter.
The Tar Heels finished 1-for-14 from the field and 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the period — tallying just four points and giving Duke a 15-point halftime lead that never dipped below double digits for the remainder of the game.
“They changed their defense and clogged the middle,” Kea said.
“Somebody was on me the whole time.”
Watts and Kea continued to do the majority of the ball handling and got good looks at the basket, but nothing seemed to fall for the Tar Heels. Every opportunity seemed to clank off the rim or end in an offensive foul.
With just over two minutes left in the half, as Duke turned an 8-0 run into a 12-point lead, UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell called a timeout to regroup.
“Some of it’s just maturity,” she said of the team’s scoring drought.
“Maybe I should have reeled them in a little bit more.”
But the message from Hatchell didn’t equate to made baskets, as the Tar Heels went 0-for-2 from the field and committed two turnovers to end the half after the timeout.
Coming into Thursday’s contest against the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels actually played their best basketball in the second quarter — outscoring their opponents by an average of 5.6 points this season.
The Tar Heels continued to fight through an abnormal second-quarter showing, cutting the lead to 12 points midway through the fourth quarter. But UNC couldn’t overcome its abysmal shooting performance, finishing 4-for-26 from the 3-point line.
“We went through a spell there,” Hatchell said. “Still, they’re learning how to play with each other.”